I am currently a senior student studying industrial engineering at a university that has both incredible industrial engineering and computer science departments. Over the last 4 years, I have taken enough CS credits to receive a minor, and I believe I have found a passion with CS, specifically data science as opposed to my major, IE.

My question is how does one go, at least in today's world, from having a B.S. in an engineering field to working in data science without having a degree in computer science? I believe that I meet most requirements for data science positions and have a deep understanding of statistics, optimization and mathematics. Though, I have found that most companies won't even continue looking through your resume without having a specific degree in the field.

I am seeking any sort of advice from the professional world and data science community. I have reached out to my academic adviser, and that was absolutely no help.

My last question essentially comes down to this: Should I just study all of the undergrad comp sci classes in my free time and go to graduate school, or do I pursue other resources such as online certificates in areas like machine learning and data science?

Sorry for the long post, and I appreciate any sort of advice or criticism. Thank you.

  • 3
    None of the data scientists I have worked with had CS degrees. If anything industrial engineering is perfect for it – Layman Dec 7 '18 at 4:47
  • Seems axiomatic that a directly relevant qualification would be better than one that isn't – Kilisi Dec 7 '18 at 6:04
  • 1
    I studied IE and I now oversee data science at my employer. Your IE degree is a good fit. Focus on the portions of the specific skills that you wouldn't have learned in your program and don't worry about the degree. Get an internship or other entry job in the field via networking and then work your way up. In a few years, no one will care what your degree says, unless you try to stay in academics. – dwizum Dec 7 '18 at 12:13
  • my advice is follow your heart, not the trends. – Manu de Hanoi Dec 8 '18 at 16:50

You don't need a computer science degree to do data science. While there is some overlap between computer science and data science (i.e. machine learning), computer science in professional context is generally used to write software and data science is used to gather insights from data. Industrial engineering is better suited to data science, because you have a better understanding of the business, statistics and optimization than a general computer science student would. The combination of both industrial engineering and computer science skills should make you especially desirable.

Just remember you're competing with PhDs and graduate students flooding the market, but there is enough demand for data scientists and a serious shortage of good talent.

I recommend you study machine learning, deep learning and databases. You probably also want to pick up skills for processing big data such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark and AWS.

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